Both gay men and heterosexual men prefer masculine-presenting men for high-status roles, according to a new study from the University of Sydney.
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The research published in the peer-reviewed journal Sex Roles is believed to be the first experimental study to demonstrate status costs for gay men who present with more feminine than masculine qualities across workplace hierarchies.
Ben Gerrard is a researcher in gender and sexuality in the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney. He defines feminine-presenting traits as a more feminine vocal quality, body language and posture.
Gerrard says the finding are that gay men prefer a more "straight-acting" gay man.
"Men are still expected to conform to more traditional masculine styles of leadership and if they fail to sufficiently project masculine traits they are at risk of status penalties."
The researcher created a mock TV commercial casting brief for a campaign promoting tourism in Sydney.
The mock campaign aimed to sell Sydney overseas and the casting called for an actor who could be viewed as a leader or someone who would be admired by the audience.
Gerrard, himself a professional actor, created videos of six shortlisted "candidates" using professional actors, all gay men in real-life, who acted the same script in both a feminine-gay and masculine-gay manner (manipulating their voice, mannerisms, and posture but otherwise everything else was kept identical).
A survey of 256 gay and heterosexual men were invited to watch the videos and to look for an actor who could be seen as a "leader" who could represent Australia.
They viewed the feminine or masculine version of a particular actor, and placed casting preferences for the role.
The researcher found that both gay men and heterosexual men preferred the more masculine gay male actor for the advert. ■
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